A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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The parish lies on the eastern edge of the county, divided from Leicestershire by a small stream and by the River Anker as far as Fieldon Bridge, for the repair of which the Abbot of Merevale had a grant of pontage in 1332. (fn. 1) The boundary then runs up the Innage Brook between Grendon and Atherstone to the Watling Street, and up the street for ½ mile. It then diverges to the south-west down Waste Lane to Grendon Wood, the largest block of woodland in the parish, and skirting Baddesley Common turns northwards to Suckle Green, to rejoin Watling Street for 200 yards; after which it runs north-east down Penmire Brook to the mill (mentioned in 1086) (fn. 2) on the Anker, which river divides Grendon from Polesworth on the west.
In the south-west the parish is crossed by the Coventry Canal and by the Trent Valley section of the L.M.S. Railway. The country is for the most part open and flat, lying between 220 and 250 ft., except in the south-west, where heights of just over 300 ft. are attained on the Watling Street. The church, the Rectory, the site of Grendon Hall, and a few farm-houses and cottages lie on the east bank of the Anker on the road from Atherstone to Polesworth.
Grendon Hall was pulled down in 1933, but some of its 18th-century outbuildings (stables, &c.) have now been converted into tenements. West of it is an ancient hump-backed bridge across the River Anker. The bridge, of coursed ashlar, may be of the 15th century and has four depressed pointed arches below the 11-ft. roadway, and piers with cut-waters on both north and side faces. The arches have no ribs; only one pier has the V-shaped recesses on the restored parapets: the tops of the others have been sloped back below the parapets. The bridge is not now used for traffic, the road having been diverted southwards to cross the Anker at the mill, and the present bridge was built in 1825. (fn. 3)
In 1627 Grendon bridge had to be repaired, and the Warwick Quarter Sessions ordered an inquiry to be made to discover who was responsible for this. (fn. 4) Three years later they decided that the charge should fall on the whole parish, and ordered 26s. 8d. to be repaid to one Alice Walton, widow, who had been forced to pay for the whole. (fn. 5) The repairs then executed cannot have been very permanent, and, in 1633, the Sessions decided to make a thorough job of it, and ordered a levy to be made to raise £40, appointing William Dugdale, gentleman, and Richard Bickly, gentleman, collectors of the same. (fn. 6)
Before the Norman Conquest, Grendon was held by Siward Barn with other property in Warwickshire and elsewhere. After the Conquest his lands were confiscated and given to Henry Ferrers, (fn. 7) from whom, in the Conqueror's Survey, one Turstin held 5½ hides in Grendon. (fn. 8)
The overlordship remained with the Ferrers family and with their other lands was absorbed in the Duchy of Lancaster as part of the Honor of Tutbury. A mesne lordship of the fee was held by the Camviles, and the manor was held of them by the Grendons. In 1242 (fn. 9) Robert de Grendon (son of Robert son of Richard son of Roger de Grendon) (fn. 10) is returned as holding 1 knight's fee in Grendon and Whittington, held of Richard de Camville of the fee of Earl Ferrers. In 1276 (fn. 11) Robert's son Ralph de Grendon agreed to pay to Geoffrey de Camville scutage for 1 knight's fee, with homage and relief, and that he should render suit at the court of Geoffrey at Clifton Campvill whenever judgement is given there for a plea moved by the king's writ or a thief is judged by inquisition of the court. Subsequently, in 1299, (fn. 12) his son Ralph and Joan his wife obtained from John de Clinton of Coleshill, who had married Alice sister of Ralph, (fn. 13) a quitclaim of all his right in the manor. This Ralph had by his first wife a son Robert and a daughter Joan (married to John de Rocheford), and by his second wife three daughters, Joan wife of Roger de Chetwynd, Alice wife of Philip de Chetwynd, and Margaret wife of John de Freford. (fn. 14)
Geoffrey de Camvile, who was holding of Blanche of Navarre, widow of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, in 1297, (fn. 15) died before 1330, for, in that year, his heirs held 3 knights' fees in Bramcote and Grendon with their members. (fn. 16)
In 1346 the immediate tenancy of the manor was in the hands of Robert de Grendon, his half-sisters Margaret de Freford and Alice widow of Philip de Chetwynd having granted to him their right to two-thirds of the manor. (fn. 17) This Robert died without issue about 1348, and apparently half the manor went to his nephew Ralph Rocheford and half to Sir William son of the Philip de Chetwynd mentioned above, (fn. 18) this half becoming known as CHETWYND'S MANOR. William's son William died in 1396 (fn. 19) and his widow Aline was sued for one-third of the manor by William Stokley and Elizabeth his wife, (fn. 20) who had been the second wife of Roger, uncle of William Chetwynd; but eventually William and Elizabeth renounced their claim. (fn. 21) Custody of half the manor of Grendon until Roger Chetwynd, William's elder son, came of age was also claimed against Aline by Edmund Stafford, Bishop of Exeter, on the ground that Sir William held that half from him by knight service. (fn. 22) Roger died in 1397 and was succeeded by his brother Richard. (fn. 23)
In 1427 Sir Philip son of Richard Chetwynd settled the manor of Grendon on himself and Joan his wife jointly. (fn. 24) On his death on 10 May 1444 he was stated (fn. 25) to hold of John Stanley as of the manor of Clifton Campville the half-manor of Grendon called Chetwynd Manor, and other lands, jointly with his wife Joan, who survived him. John Chetwynd his uncle was his next heir.
This John Chetwynd sought to gain possession of the manor on the grounds that Sir Philip's settlement of the manor was invalid. (fn. 26) Philip's widow Joan was by this time married again to Sir Thomas Littleton, the judge and legal author. (fn. 27) John lost his case, and in 1454 (fn. 28) Robert Chetwynd his son and heir ratified to Thomas Littleton and Joan his wife half the manor of Grendon and other estates during the life of Joan. At her death in 1504 she was seised of the (whole) manor, (fn. 29) said to be held of John Camville, and her heir was William Chetwynd, wrongly described as her grandson, actually the great-grandson of John. (fn. 30) On the death of William in 1546 (fn. 31) he was holding the manor of the heirs of Baldwin Frevill, with the advowson of the church and a water-mill.
Sir William's grandson John Chetwynd was twice married and had a large family. (fn. 32) On his death in 1592 Grendon passed to his eldest son (Sir) William, (fn. 33) who died without issue in 1612 and was succeeded by his brother Sir Walter. His grandson Walter Chetwynd 'the Antiquary', (fn. 34) who died in 1692, was the last of this line. Grendon then passed to Charles, grandson of Thomas, 4th son of the John who died in 1592, and he seems to have made it over to his grandson Walter, who died in 1733. (fn. 35) He had married Barbara Goring and left two sons, Walter, who died in 1750, and William Henry. The latter died without issue in 1755. His uncle John Chetwynd had a daughter Mary who married Montagu, Viscount Blundell, and they had three daughters: (1) Elizabeth (? unmarried); (2) Mary, who married William Trumbull and was grandmother of Mary, Baroness Sandys, who married in 1786 Arthur, Marquess of Downshire; (3) Chetwynd, who married first Robert, Lord Raymond, and second Lord Robert Bertie. (fn. 36) William Henry Chetwynd is said to have left Grendon to his cousin Lady Robert Bertie, (fn. 37) who is sometimes called Chetwynd (fn. 38) and sometimes Mary. (fn. 39) She died c. 1800 and left the manor to her distant relative Sir George Chetwynd, 1st bart., of Brocton, (fn. 40) with whose descendants it remained for five generations, until the death of the last baronet, Sir Victor Chetwynd, in 1935.
The reversion of the second moiety of the manor of Grendon was conveyed by Margery daughter of Sir Ralph Rocheford to Thomas Bosevyle in 1387, being then held by Hugh de Grendon and Joan his wife for her life. (fn. 41) This Hugh seems to be Hugh de Assheby, who had married Joan widow of Sir Ralph Rocheford. (fn. 42) Presumably this is the manor of GRENDON which by the beginning of the 16th century had come to Margaret daughter of William Stafford of Frome (fn. 43) and wife of Sir George de Vere. She gave it in 1537 to her daughter Elizabeth and her husband Sir Anthony Wingfield, subject to annuities of £20 each to her other two daughters, Dorothy wife of John, Lord Latimer, and Ursula wife of Edmund Knightley. (fn. 44) Between 1552 and 1598 there were a number of conveyances, evidently for settlements, between members of the Wingfield family, sometimes of 'the manor' (fn. 45) and sometimes of '¼ of the manor', (fn. 46) but the subsequent history of this portion is unknown.
On 20 June 1558 Robert Harcourt died seised of a manor of GRENDON, held of John Ferrers. (fn. 47) This he had inherited from his father John Harcourt, whose grandfather John had obtained property here by marriage with Margaret daughter and heir of William Bracy, together with the manor of Freeford (Staffs.); (fn. 48) which suggests that this represents the portion held by Margaret de Freford in the 14th century. (fn. 49) Robert Harcourt's heir was his brother Simon, but he left these estates to his mistress Cassandra Cooke and their four illegitimate sons. (fn. 50) They, with Elizabeth (daughter of Simon Harcourt) and her husband Michael Ludford, in 1585 conveyed their rights in the advowson of Grendon Church to William Cave and Robert Harcourt, (fn. 51) but no more is known of the Harcourt interest in Grendon.
At some time in the 16th century a manor of GRENDON (and the advowson of the church) was held by three sisters: Elizabeth wife of George Pollard, Margaret, who married first — Slater and then Humphrey Harrison of Biggin (Derby), and Jane wife of Thomas Knyveton of Merraston (Derby). The whole came to Margaret, who in 1601 settled one moiety of Grendon on her daughter Elizabeth Slater and her husband John Digby and the other half on her son George Slater, who subsequently exchanged it to Elizabeth for other lands. Their son, John Digby, succeeded to the property in 1624, (fn. 52) but no more is known of this alleged manor.
Although it is not mentioned in Domesday, WHITTINGTON existed as a separate manor as early as 1219, when Julian widow of Serlo de Grendon claimed a third part as dower against Roger de Stratton. (fn. 53) Roger was son of Isolde, one of Serlo's three daughters and co-heirs; the other two were Joan wife of William de Stratton and Agatha wife of Henry de Brayleford. (fn. 54) Whittington had fallen to Roger's share, and in 1220 he assigned one-third of the vill to Julian as dower. (fn. 55) In 1227 and 1229 justices were appointed to hear an assize of novel disseisin between Roger de Stratton and Robert de Grendon about a tenement and pasture in Whittington. (fn. 56)
This manor was held in 1242 of Earl Ferrers, with Grendon, as 1 knight's fee by Robert de Grendon under Richard de Camville. (fn. 57)
We next hear of Whittington as part of the estate of Thomas de Estleye, killed at the battle of Evesham. His grandmother is said (fn. 58) to have been a sister and coheir of Roger de Camville. It was confiscated after his death, when it was valued at £12 3s. 4d. and was said to be held in chief of the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 59) In 1265 Thomas's lands were granted to Warin de Bassingburne, (fn. 60) but the king later granted of grace that Edith widow of Thomas should have various lands, including Whittington, for the maintenance of herself and her children for life. (fn. 61) In 1316 a fee in Whittington was held of the Earl of Warwick by the heir of Nicholas de Asteleye, grandson of Thomas. (fn. 62)
In 1435 John Hekling and Joan his wife granted 10 messuages and some 470 acres of land and pasture in Whittington to William Repington. (fn. 65) The estate apparently remained in this family (fn. 66) until 1663, when Sebright Repington granted to Lettice Hounsell, widow, the manor of Whittington, 10 messuages, &c., with common of pasture and view of frankpledge in Whittington, Grendon, and Atherston. (fn. 67)
In the 16th century Whittington had appeared as one of the members of Grendon in the Court Leet Roll (fn. 68) of the honor of Tutbury, but it appears again as an independent manor held by Sir Robert Burdett in 1741, and Sir Francis Burdett between 1780 and 1807, (fn. 69) and, with Grendon and Dordon, in the hands of Sir George Chetwynd in 1824. (fn. 70)
By 1829 (fn. 71) this manor had come into the hands of the Dugdale family of Merevale, and the present lord of the manor is Sir William Francis Stratford Dugdale, bart.
The remains of thick walls east of the arcades indicate a 12th-century origin of the nave, but no details of this period survive. The chancel, which leans to the south of the nave-axis, was rebuilt and enlarged early in the 13th century. A clearstory was added to the chancel in the 16th century. The north aisle and arcade date from about 1260. Probably the original windows were narrow lancets and were replaced by the present late-14th-century windows, or else the walls were entirely rebuilt, the 13th-century doorway being reset. The south aisle and arcade and probably also the chancel arch were built about 1320 and the aisle was carried eastward beyond the chancel arch to form a chantry chapel (the Chetwynd chapel). (fn. 72) The clearstory to the nave may be a little earlier than that of the chancel.
The chancel (about 38½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has a modern east window of three lights and tracery of late-13thcentury style. The wall was originally pierced by three lancet windows; there are external traces of the outer jambs of the outer lights. In the north wall are two 13th-century lancets (10½ in. wide) with rebated and chamfered jambs, plastered internal splays, and pointed rear-arches of square section. The third was replaced by a late-15th-century window of three trefoiled lights and tracery in a three-centred head; the mullions and tracery are restored. In the south wall were two similar lancets, both now blocked with old masonry. Half the eastern and the whole outline of the western are visible outside. Between them was a large square-headed window, 8 ft. wide, of the 15th or 16th century; this was walled up for a funeral monument of 1750. West of the blocked windows is a tall and higher 14thcentury window of three trefoiled pointed lights and three quatrefoils in a two-centred head. Below it is a 13th-century priests' doorway with roll-moulded jambs and pointed head with an external hood-mould. It is blocked to form a recess outside. West of this is a modern archway into the aisle. On the north side are two square-headed clearstory windows of the 16th century and one on the south, all blocked.
The walls are of irregular rubble of mixed grey, red, brown, and yellow stones up to the base of the clearstory and have chamfered plinths. At man-height in the side walls and east buttresses is a 13th-century stringcourse below the sills of the lancets; also a later and higher string-course. At the angles and against the sidewalls are original ashlar small buttresses, one on the south side being reduced in height for the former large 16th-century window. They divide the side walls into three bays, the southern bays being less than the northern because of the eastward position of the south chapel. Against the west sides of the eastern side buttresses are later larger buttresses, probably 16th century, to support the clearstory. The clearstory walls are of grey-white ashlar in large courses. The heads of the westernmost window on each side extend up into the clearstory, possibly later heightenings. The parapets are of 18th-century restoration, with older stringcourses. On the second south buttress is scratched a medieval sun-dial. The roof has a flat plastered ceiling of uncertain age, divided by ribs into eight double panels having conventional foliage bosses at the intersections and against the walls.
The chancel arch, which has similar detail to that of the south arcade, is probably of early-14th-century origin, but has been considerably restored. The responds have half-round shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The head, of two chamfered orders, is plastered. It has lost its normal two-centred form by subsidence, and there is a vertical crack above the north respond.
The nave (about 38 ft. by 18½ ft.) has north and south arcades of three bays. The north, of c. 1260, has 10½-ft. bays with octagonal pillars and responds. The moulded capitals are decorated with two rows of nailhead ornament; the moulded bases may not be original. All has been oil-painted grey. The lower half of the east semi-octagonal respond has been cut back for a panelled dado. The pointed arches are of two chamfered orders.
The south arcade has 11 ft. 8 in. bays with pillars of four filleted half-round attached shafts, with moulded capitals and bases resembling those of the chancel arch, and responds to match. The two-centred heads are of two quarter-round moulded orders. East of both responds the wall thickens to about 3½ ft. on the nave side up to the base of the clearstory, probably remains of a 12th-century nave. At the west end are splayed projections east of the tower wall, which may be altered remains of the original west wall. The clearstory has three north windows of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights under a square main head. The easternmost is of modern widening, the others probably 15th-century. The three windows in the south wall have plain squareheaded lights of the 16th or 17th century. The clearstory walls are of large ashlar and have ancient plain parapets. The roof has a flat plastered ceiling like that of the chancel.
The north aisle (about 7¼ ft. wide) has a 14thcentury east window of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights and net tracery in a two-centred head. The two windows in the north wall are each of two similar lights and semi-quatrefoils under a square head. West of them is the 13th-century north doorway with an edge-roll to the jambs and pointed head and a plain hood. The west window, probably later, is of two cinquefoiled pointed lights under a square head.
All the masonry of the windows is treated with cement inside and out. The walls are of largish greywhite ashlar with a large chamfered plinth and old plain parapets with a hollow-chamfered string-course. The north wall is divided into three bays by 14th-century buttresses.
The south aisle (16 ft. wide) has an early-14th-century east window of three cinquefoiled pointed lights and foiled intersecting tracery in a two-centred head with an old external hood-mould having headstops. In the south wall are two windows, each of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a twocentred head. The south doorway has weatherworn jambs and pointed head of three orders with filleted edge-rolls; the middle order also has an outer hollow decorated with ball-flowers at irregular intervals. The hood-mould has been cut away. The west window has jambs and two-centred head, probably of the same date, but the mullion and tracery were removed in the 19th century. In the south chapel is a 14th-century piscina with a trefoiled head; it is now mostly concealed by a monument. The walls are of grey-white ashlar, large in the east wall and smaller in the other walls. The low-pitched east gable and the lower parts of the south and west walls have been restored, with the string-course below the sills and the moulded plinth. The parapet is like that of the north aisle, but the stringcourse is decorated with ball-flowers. The square buttresses at the angles and against the south wall have original foiled gable-heads (except that east of the porch). That to the west wall has also a quatrefoil panel in the tympanum. On the eastern intermediate south buttress is cut an elaborate circular medieval sun-dial with roman numerals. The roof has a modern ceiling.
The west tower (14½ ft. square), of three stages with ashlar walls, is about a century old. It has west and south pointed doorways and an east doorway into the nave. The lowest stage, now used as the vestry, has a low three-light north window. Above the vestry are windows of two lights and tracery. The second stage has lancet windows, and the bell-chamber windows of two lights and tracery. Over the north and south windows are clock dials. In the east wall is a blocked circular window. The cornice is coved and above the parapet are angle pinnacles.
The Chetwynd chapel is separated from the rest of the south aisle by a screen of c. 1680. It is of five bays with a middle doorway; the openings have round heads, with enriched key-blocks, carried on panelled square posts with Corinthian capitals, all standing on a middle rail; the spandrels are carved with cherubs' heads. The entablature is plain, and above is an achievement of arms of Chetwynd impaling Bagot, and two urns. Wood fittings imported from elsewhere, some of them foreign, include the communion rails in the chancel, which are of five bays divided by panelled square posts with carved figures in 17th-century costume. These are the Virgin and Child, St. Peter with a key and book, a shepherd boy playing a pipe, and another with a bagpipe, and two cherubs. Between the posts are twisted balusters. The frieze to the top-rail is carved with cherubs' heads, vine pattern, scrolled foliage, &c. There is also a piece of late-17th-century cresting, probably part of a Flemish reredos, with a figure of Christ in Majesty, in a scrolled cartouche surrounded by altorelievo carving of flowers, fruit, &c. It has rams' heads as north and south consoles and four gilded cherubs' heads.
At the west end of the nave is an enclosed gallery pew brought from St. Mary's Church, Stafford, and said to have been the Mayor's pew. It is three-sided with open bays having round arches enriched with egg and tongue ornament and shallow foliage carving to the spandrels: the sides have scrolled brackets. Between them are flat posts with low relief carving and over them a frieze carved with ornament and an inscription: RICHARD DRAKEFORD STEPHEN WINKLE CHVRCH WARDENS ANNO DOMINI 1618. There is a carved side-door to the pew.
On the south wall of the south aisle are the Royal Arms carved in wood, (fn. 73) and there is a modern achievement over the north doorway, of wood or plaster.
On the south side of the chancel is a fine well-preserved recumbent effigy in alabaster of an early-15thcentury lady. She wears a draped high head-dress, necklace and locket, tight corsage with sleeves buttoned at the wrists, close skirt, and over it a sideless gown. Below the sideless gown across her hips is a narrow belt; over all is a mantle, loosely fastened across the breast with cords from rosette brooches. The head rests on two cushions and at the feet is a small dog.
On the north side is a large alabaster grave slab of [Margaret wife of William Chetwynd] 1538–9. It is incised with her effigy in pedimental head-dress, loose sleeves through which appear the real tight sleeves, frilled cuffs, hands in prayer and holding a rosary, and a full skirt. By her left side is an infant in swaddling clothes inscribed 'Wilm Chetwyn'. A marginal inscription in black letter reads: 'Of your Charyte pray for the soul of … qwyer w[ife?] m[ar]gett decessed … February in the yere of or lord god M l CCCCCXXXVIII.' At the top are shields of arms (1) Chetwynd quartering Grendon. (2) Two charges; upper, three pheons, for Salter (?); lower, a bend cotised, in chief a bird; impaling, a bend with three sheaves thereon, in chief a molet, for Ottley. (fn. 74)
Mural monuments in the chancel include: (1) to Frances daughter of Walter Chetwynd and Anne (Bagot), died 1673 in 20th month of age; (2) Frances (Haseling) wife of Walter Chetwynd and afterwards of Wolston Dixey of Bosworth, died 1686; (3) to Mary daughter of Charles Chetwynd, died 1750, aged 95. It has a life-size figure of a mourning woman and an urn set in a half-round recess in the south wall. A 16thcentury window was walled up for it.
In the 'Chetwynd Chapel' are several monuments to members of that family. One, an alabaster tablet brought from Ingestre and reset in front of the piscina, has an inscription to John Chetwynd of 'Ingistrent', Staffs., and Marjorie (Middelmore). His first wife Mary (Meverell) had a son William. He had five sons by the second and died 1592. Another of alabaster is to William Chetwynd, 1612; the monument was set up in 1676 by Walter Chetwynd. Others are later.
On the west wall of the south aisle is another to John son of Thomas Chetwinde of Rudge, co. Staffs., died 1652. A monument to Sir George Chetwynd 1850 records that he restored and beautified the church in 1825.
A number of kneeling figures and armorial shields in the windows were figured by Dugdale (c. 1650), but all the figures and most of the shields had already been lost by 1730. (fn. 75)
There are six bells: (1) 1699 by Henry Bagley; (2) 1615 by William Clibury of Wellington, Salop; (3) Recast 1906; (4) inscribed MELEDE GERIT by Newcombe; (5) 1623 by Hugh Watts, Leicester; and (6) the tenor of 1906 by Taylor & Co., Loughborough.
In 1703 a case was brought in Chancery by Robert Mosse, clerk, against Anne Gibson, widow of Francis Gibson, the late rector, concerning the tithes and parsonage house at Grendon, which, it was alleged, the defendant refused to vacate, allowing it to fall into ruins. The defence was that Thomas Gibson was rector for about seven years, until his death in 1690/1, and, far from allowing it to become ruinous, he rebuilt the dove-cot and retiled most of the house. Various other points emerge from the case, notably that Thomas Gibson was absent from the parish at the University during the whole of the first two years after his presentation, and after that was always sickly and requiring curates to do his work. The living was then worth about £100 a year. (fn. 76) Previous to this it had been valued at £10 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 77) and at £20 3s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 78)
Gibson's Charity. An inscription on a monument in the church at Grendon to the memory of Arthur Stevens states that he charged an estate at Dostill, called Hockley, with the payment of Mrs. Gibson's legacy to the poor of Grendon viz. 50s. per annum to be distributed on Good Friday. The charge is now paid out of Hockley Hall Farm at Wilnecote and distributed to the poor of the parish.